How ‘Heartstopper’ Helped Orla Gartland Score a Hit With a Three-Year Old Song

How ‘Heartstopper’ Helped Orla Gartland Score a Hit With a Three-Year Old Song

Singer-songwriter Orla Gartland is the first to admit that her reflective 2019 single “Why Am I Like This?” started out as a joke. “The title sounded really snarky to me and was something that my friend and I said a lot in a very self-deprecating way,” Gartland says from her childhood home in Dublin.

But the song recently found a serious second life soundtracking a pivotal scene in Heartstopper, the Netflix adaptation of the popular queer coming-of-age webcomic that author Alice Oseman began publishing in 2016. In the closing moment of the series’ second episode, Nick (Kit Connor) starts to question his feelings for newfound BFF Charlie (Joe Locke) and heads to Google to type out the question achingly familiar to anyone who has come out: “Am I gay?” Just as Nick presses the “return” key on the search, the screen cuts to black, leaving viewers’ hearts racing as the final chorus — which urgently repeats the song’s titular phrase — kicks in and the credits roll.

A longtime fan of Gartland, Oseman had reached out on Twitter saying she already had the song in mind before the scene was even filmed. Viewers latched on to the soul-searching moment, and suddenly Gartland’s 3-year-old song had a new audience, reaching No. 4 on Billboard’s Top TV Songs chart in April with 1.4 million U.S. on-demand streams, according to Luminate — a 2,142% increase from the previous month (March) before the show aired.

The moment has been made even sweeter for Gartland, who came out as bisexual less than a year ago on Twitter and is, as she puts it, “a bit more settled” in herself than when she wrote the song in 2018.

“I do think that if I had this show when I was, like, 16, I would’ve been so much quicker to do that, to be happy to shout about that,” says Gartland, now 27. “Hopefully, we’ll see loads of series and films that follow where it’s a beautiful, human love story and it’s queer. It’s just a really simple thing.”

This story originally appeared in the June 4, 2022, issue of Billboard.

How ‘Heartstopper’ Helped Orla Gartland Score a Hit With a Three-Year Old Song Singer-songwriter Orla Gartland is the first to admit that her reflective 2019 single “Why Am I Like This?” started out as a joke. “The title sounded really snarky to me and was something that my friend and I said a lot in a…